Right now, with the exception of NBC news, most news outlets are counting super delegates in their running delegate total for the Democratic nomination. However, they should not be doing this, because it assumes something very negative about Democrats that has been consistently refuted by past Democratic nomination campaigns. Simply put, Democratic super delegates often change their minds, and have always lined up behind the popular vote winner in the primaries.
From 1984 to 2004, the overwhelming majority of super delegates have cast their convention votes for the candidate who won more votes during the primary and caucus season. This was just as true for Mondale in 1984 as it was for Kerry in 2004. On every single occasion, large numbers of super delegates switched their early, public support for a candidate in favor of the candidate who had the most popular support from voters in Democratic primaries and participants in Democratic caucuses.
If you don't believe me, then believe CNN, one of the organizations that is including super delegates in their totals:
CNN's political director, Sam Feist, noted that the campaigns' lists of supportive superdelegates tend to be inflated and sometimes contradictory. There are people on a candidate's list, said Mr. Feist, "who, when we call them, say, 'I'm not for that candidate,' or even, 'I'm for the other candidate.' " Those who include superdelegates take exhaustive steps to pin down voting preference, which means many superdelegates are inundated with phone calls and emails until a presumptive candidate emerges.
Let me get this straight: by CNN's own admission, super delegate counts are fluid, inflated, and contradictory. And yet they include those totals anyway. Why a major news outlet is publishing a fluid, inflated, and contradictory report is beyond me, but it might be one reason why the national opinion of news media isn't very high these days.
Super delegates have always made up, or changed, their minds en masse to endorse the candidate with the most popular support from primary and caucus participants. As such, the way nearly all super delegates vote at the convention is dependant on how Democratic primary voters and caucus goers vote before the convention. Since Democratic primary and caucus goers have not yet finished voting, there is no solid way to tell how super delegates will vote at the convention. To put it another way, super delegate counts are projections, not actual totals. Until the cause of how super delegates vote has played itself out, it simply does not make any sense on either a democratic or mathematical level to include super delegates in delegate totals. To do so is precisely analogous to including in delegate counts future delegate totals from states that have not yet held nominating contests by using polls to determine future delegate counts. While no news organization would ever include such future pledged delegates projections in their delegate counts, almost all of them are doing exactly the same thing by including future super delegates projections in their delegate counts.
This primary season, polls have often been contradictory, fluid, and such plain wrong. That is why news organizations have waited until actual voting results have been completed before adding up pledged delegate totals. Unfortunately, to date they have not waited to include super delegates, whose vote is also dependant on how primary and caucus goers vote, before adding them to delegate totals. That needs to change.